Attachment by Isabel Fonseca

Book: Attachment by Isabel Fonseca Read Free Book Online
Authors: Isabel Fonseca
Tags: General Fiction
pretend in the elevator that he didn’t know her? Did he buy her overpriced presents from the lobby shops and tell the salesgirls they were for his wife? Or didn’t people bother with that anymore? Nowadays it seemed more likely that, for a mere lunch break in the Presidential Suite, the salesgirls might themselves become recipients of these shiny trinkets. Anyone could, anyone but a wife.
    As a matter of survival, Jean started each day of Phyllis’s visit with a run along the road. She avoided the gym in Toussaint:too close to the Internet café. But one week into this routine, Jean found herself driving into town. Not trusting her daughter to have the basics, Phyllis had packed a nontravel hairdryer along with a five-pound transformer, but to no avail. She fretted for days under a halo of humidity-generated frizz before Jean took pity on her and brought her in to see Aminata. Later, Mark would pick Phyllis up and take her out on the boat belonging to the American who ran the Bamboo Bar. Jean, desperate for a day off, hadn’t wanted to point out that her hair would of course be reruined.
    She headed straight for the Internet café and settled in to look at her readers’ letters and to check the joint account. There was a business e-mail from France for Mark ( À l’attention de M. Hubbard ), a notice from Amazon and another from e-Bay, no word from Victoria. With nothing worth opening, she signed out.
    And then, absolutely determined not to open Naughtyboy1, Jean reached for the next best thing: real pornography—the world behind Thing 2. Research, Jean told herself, the most reassuring word in the dictionary. She logged on purposefully, beginning at the only site she could come up with,
    Settling in for a good look, Jean was impressed, above all, by the hard work that went into being wanted. It reminded her of sixth-grade preening and posturing and parading in the cafeteria, often by girls who were pretty and already popular but still had this unaccountable drive, though she suspected it was the formerly not-so-popular girls who were putting in the real man-hours.
    She gravitated to the amateur sites where she supposed she had to place Giovana, among the other would-be actresses and models—along with housewives and students and travel agents and caterers, swimming instructors, accountants, product-safety inspectors, as well, she had no doubt, as lawyers, posing in bad lighting on half-made beds, squeezing breasts together as directed, peeking up from lowered heads or down through hooded eyes, generally looking evil or sedated. Occasionally there was a hairy arm at the edge of the picture, presumably the husband or boyfriend, positioning this woman, his prize pig at the county fair, her flesh oozing like melted cheese over too-tight mail-order bodices. Cheesy piglets. In fact, these images gave her just the uncomfortable feeling she had whenever she saw pictures of animals dressed in clothes or performing in a circus.
    None of us has any idea how we look, she thought, and particularly not, for obvious reasons, from behind. The one other thing you could safely say about the amateurs was that they were all optimists. Giovana’s pictures looked more professional than these, Jean noted, confirming her hunch that her correspondent was a working model, probably doing catalogs for “full-size” ladies—with the distant dream of Page Three. Mark met these girls all the time during auditions for new campaigns. She wasn’t even a runner-up, but he’d taken her number, “just in case.” He often worked closely on an ad, in quiet conference with a bevy of stylists and whichever ponytailed ego they were using as a photographer. Sitting here examining the images people put on the Internet all by themselves, for the first time she appreciated those stylists.
    Jean ordered a ham sandwich before the owner—he was also the cashier, cook, and cleaner—stepped out, leaving her alone in her corner. And she went on

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